Imatges de pÓgina
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disputed. Small-pox is about the most loathsome disease to which our race is liable, and was for long the most fatal. It was also the most rapidly and inescapably contagious. Nobody could argue that it concerned himself or his family alone. Every small-pox patient was a risk and a probable agent of death to all with whom he came in contact. Vaccination, when pure and well administered, used to be an almost absolute preservative. It is so still, even as at present administered, in ninety cases out of every hundred. Still, it is admitted that the lymph employed is not as good as it once was, having been humanised,' as we are assured, to the extent of two and a half per cent., and even diseased in quality in very rare cases.* But vaccine lymph procured direct from the animal has been introduced in Belgium (and now, we understand, in St. Petersburg) with the most complete and unexceptional success, and without the slightest liability to the objection which has to some slight extent given countenance to the aversion which has arisen here. With this amendment of the system once introduced, it becomes obvious that the law of compulsory vaccination' is a righteous one, and that the dislike and opposition of any individual to a beneficent arrangement determined by the sense, and appointed for the safety, of ninety-nine of every hundred in the community qualified to form a judgment, ought to be sternly overridden. Conscience is a far more unendurable plea for disobedience in this case than in the last. There disobedience threatened only the life of the offender's child; here' it threatens the lives, health, and comeliness of thousands of his fellowcitizens.

The practical conclusion to be drawn from all these considerations, stated nakedly and broadly, would strike most persons as somewhat startling. It is this:that Conscientiousness in its absolute formthat is, being a slave to your conscience, always doing what it tells you to do is commendable or defensible only on the preliminary assumption that you have taken every available pains to enlighten and correct it. You can be safe and justified in obeying it implicitly only when you have ascertained, or done all in your power to ascertain, first, that it is qualified to command, and secondly, that what you take for Conscience is not in reality egotism, ignorance, incapacity, intolerance, or conceit under a thin disguise. To make sure of this is no easy business. It requires not only good sense (a much rarer gift than we fancy), but great intelligence, a cultivated mind, modest as well as earnest searching after truth, to entitle a man to give himself over to his Conscience. Never must he be allowed to plead it as an excuse for mistake or wrong. In fine, and in plain truth, it is not every man-perhaps we might say it is but few men-that can afford to keep a conscience-a conscience of this absolute and imperious sort at least. To direct floundering or blinded souls, just as See Sir Thomas Watson, Nineteenth Century, June 1878.

much as to cure diseased bodies, needs a license and a diploma from some college competent to confer such.

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In the Navy, and I believe in the Merchant service as well, it is the practice, as soon as a ship is ready for sea, or ordered on an expedition, to pass her through a preliminary ceremony, known technically as being swung.' It is absolutely indispensable: she is not held to be fit for duty till it has been performed. It consists in verifying her compasses—ascertaining by actual and minute comparison with compasses on shore that those instruments by which she is to direct her course throughout her voyage are perfect and accurate, point aright, are impeded in their operation by no fault of construction, and liable to no deviation from the influence of disturbing attractions. As a matter of fact the magnetic compasses of few ships are found to be thoroughly exact, or to point truly and precisely to the north-sometimes swerving from that direction as much as ten degrees, and owing this variation most commonly to the position and amount of iron of which the ship is partially constructed. Before the ship is suffered to sail, this variation must be either rectified, or, as is more commonly the practice, registered and allowed for. It is obvious that, unless this were done, not only would the vessel not know for certain whither she was steering, nor arrive except by accident at her intended port; but that ship, cargo, and the lives of the crew might every day be wrecked on any hidden rock or headland-in fact, that her course and fate would be at the mercy of chance.

In the case of ships setting forth upon voyages across the Atlantic Ocean all this anxious caution is observed lest the guiding instrument to which they trust should be imperfect or misleading. Yet men habitually set out upon the voyage of life-far longer in duration, beset with perils from rocks and hurricanes immeasurably greater, and fraught with issues incontestably more serious-with a compass as their guide, which they trust as blindly and obey as implicitly as any mariner who ever sailed the seas, yet which in countless instances they have never been at the pains to test before installing it in a position of command, and which they seldom, if ever, pause to question, verify, or adjust.

W. R. GREG.

THE DEPRECIATION OF SILVER AND

THE INDIAN FINANCES.

Ir is nearly three years ago that alarm was first caused among all persons connected with, India and Indian trade by the sudden and rapid fall in the value of silver, the metal which furnishes the currency of that country. The price of silver had been undergoing a slow decline for some years, but in 1876 this suddenly culminated in a fall of price within a few months, from 561d. to 484d. an ounce, the whole fall in four years representing a depreciation of more than 20 per cent. in the value of the metal, measured in gold.

The most important interest affected, and in the largest degree, was that of the Indian Government itself, which found its revenues, already overweighted by the calls arising out of recent famines, suddenly burdened with a new and unexpected charge of some millions per annum, a charge which, when the inelastic nature of those revenues is considered, might well create dismay among all those responsible for our Indian administration.

The nature of this charge may be explained in a few words. The Indian Government has contracted various engagements to make payments in England in gold; for the interest on its public debt, and on the capital of its guaranteed railways; for the pensions of its retired civil and military servants; for its share of the home charges of the European troops serving in India; for the supply of military equipments; the purchase of stores; the cost of the establishment of the India Office; and so forth, to the amount of about seventeen millions sterling a year; and since the revenues of India are collected in silver, this engagement involves that its government must purchase gold to this amount out of the income which it receives in the former metal. The nature of the operation is to a certain extent disguised by the mode in which it is effected-through the agency of private trade. The commodities exported from India are largely in excess of the imports into that country—a state of things, it may here be observed, which is partly the consequence of these home charges and the exporting merchants, instead of shipping silver bullion to India to pay for the excess, purchase the bills which the Indian Council sell for gold in the London market, and which are VOL. V.-No. 23. H

payable in silver at the treasuries in India. The amount of these bills to be sold in the current year is seventeen millions sterling; and the effect of the arrangement, so far as the revenues of India are concerned, is precisely the same as if the Government of that country were actually to remit the silver to England and exchange it here for its equivalent amount of gold. It follows that the charge on the revenues of India, in respect of these payments, will fluctuate with the price of silver as expressed in gold. So long as silver was worth about 61d. the ounce-its average price for many years-the rupee was worth almost exactly one-tenth of a pound, and to purchase seventeen millions sterling required the remittance of 170,000,000 rupees. But when silver fell to about 48d. the ounce, which happened in the summer of 1876, the value of the rupee expressed in gold was reduced to less than 1s. 7d., and instead of 170,000,000 rupees being sufficient, 216,000,000 would be required; the difference, 46,000,000 rupees, representing an extra charge on the Indian revenues of more than three and a half millions sterling.

The total charge involved by this 'loss by exchange' has not indeed, up to the present time, amounted to so large a sum as this in any one year, because the value of the rupee has not remained constant at the point of greatest depreciation, and also because the Indian Government. has had occasion to raise loans every year in London, the proceeds of which become directly applicable to meet the home charges, and to that extent reduce the amount of the bills to be drawn on the Indian treasury. And shortly after the publication of the report of the Select Committee, appointed in the Session of 1876 to inquire into the cause of the depreciation, the price of silver rose again considerably, and the alarm created by the previous sudden fall to a certain extent subsided. But now, after undergoing various fluctuations, the price of silver has again experienced a great decline. The latest quotation gives it at a trifle more than 49d. the ounce; the last of their bills sold by the Indian Council realised less than 1s. 74d. the rupee; and within the last few days the estimates of the Indian Government for the current year, which originally provided for an outlay of three millions under loss by exchange,' have been increased by half a million, making the total charge for the year under this head no less than three and a half millions sterling.

To appreciate fully the gravity of such a charge, which is more than one-half of the interest on the Indian public debt of all kinds, it must be borne in mind that the Indian revenues are extremely inelastic. The major part of them is derived from the rent of land, which for a large part of India is fixed in perpetuity, while everywhere else any possible increment could accrue but slowly. The return from the customs is insignificant; the income tax, whether wisely or not, has been definitively abandoned. It is no exaggeration to say that this additional charge on the Indian revenues is a more serious relative

burden than would be a charge of ten times the amount on the revenues of England. But, indeed, the two cases are not comparable. The taxable resources of England are practically indefinitely great, as witness the enormous revenues raised during the Napoleonic wars from a country manifoldly poorer than the England of to-day. But in India the financier very soon finds himself at the end of his expedients; in the opinion of many that point has been reached already. Apart, then, from the serious effect which this fall in the gold price of silver has had on the fortunes of all those who have to make remittances from India, to say nothing of the injury accruing from the same cause to the import trade of this country, as well from the absolute fall as from the uncertainty which these fluctuations in price throw over all the operations of trade, if we consider merely the effect on the Indian Government, the wonder is rather that so little than that so much attention should have been directed to the matter, which is in truth one of extraordinary importance. We have heard a great deal about the recent famines in India, which, besides the suffering arising from them, involved a tremendous burden on the revenues of that country. But while these catastrophes, it may be hoped, are at worst temporary and occasional, there is no reason why this loss by exchange should not continue; it is not unreasonable, indeed, to expect that, unless some remedy be applied, it may become heavier year by year. Even if the value of silver should rise again, the uncertainty thrown over all the financial operations of the Indian Government, in having to receive its revenues in one metal, and pay away a large part of them in another, while these metals are liable to undergo constant fluctuations in their relative value, is thoroughly demoralising in its tendency. For what is the use of keeping a careful watch over the public purse, and exercising that frugality in all branches of expenditure which is of the essence of sound administration, when this great charge of loss by exchange is undergoing alteration almost from day to day, and all the small economies of careful financial supervision are liable to be swept away by a fall of a penny or twopence an ounce in the price of silver? All governments tend to be reckless about expenditure in time of war; when money is being scattered on every side, the virtue of frugality must needs be at a discount for the time, just as in private life if a man have a liability hanging over him to meet some great expenditure beyond his own control he is likely to become careless about his scale of living. This is a similar case. That the finances. of the Indian Government should be liable to constant derangement from this cause is only one degree worse than the certainty of having to bear a new and permanent burden of this nature. Either way the prospect is sufficiently alarming.

Space does not permit of discussing the question here, whether the payment of these home charges--the tribute, as it is sometimes

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